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Socket A Athlon and Duron Heatsink Tip

The following Tech Tip regarding Socket A heatsinks was sent by AMD to AMD resellers on 8/10/00.

Tech Tip:

- Did you know that the new PGA (Pin Grid Array) AMD Athlon(tm) and AMD Duron(tm) processors have very different thermal specifications than any preceding AMD processor? Due to these differences, the AMD Athlon and AMD Duron processors should NEVER be run without a heatsink, not even for a few seconds. Doing so will cause the processor to overheat and fail immediately, resulting in permanent damage. While testing a processor by booting it up for several seconds without a heatsink installed may be common industry practice, it should never be attempted with the new PGA AMD Athlon and AMD Duron processors.

- What thermal solution should you use? For optimal performance, always use a heatsink solution evaluated and recommended by AMD. A list of these recommended solutions is available on AMD's Thermal Solutions page at:


- Efficient heatsink solutions for the AMD Athlon and AMD Duron processors must conform to the heatsink design specifications as outlined in the "AMD Thermal, Mechanical, and Chassis Cooling Design Guide" PID#23794, available at:


- Although these processors have socket designs similar to the AMD-K6(r) family processors, heatsink solutions designed for AMD-K6 family processors should never be used. Most of these will not conform to the required dimensions. The PGA AMD Athlon and AMD Duron processors require a heatsink with a minimum base size of 60mm x 60mm, and a fan with a minimum rating of 16 cfm (cubic feet per minute). Additionally, the new exposed flip-chip design of the PGA AMD Athlon and AMD Duron processors requires a clip load between 12 and 24 pounds (typically 16 pounds), a load that may not be met by most older heatsink designs. A thermal compound, such as thermal grease or phase-change material, must always be applied between the processor and heatsink as well. Typically, AMD recommended heatsinks will include the thermal compound. If the thermal compound must be purchased separately, a list of suggested compounds can be found in the "AMD Thermal, Mechanical, and Chassis Cooling Design Guide" referenced above.

9/8/00 We are hearing about quite few cases of people breaking AMD Socket A processors by

  • using the wrong kind of heat-sink fan
  • installing the processor and turning on a computer before installing a proper heat-sink fan (these aren't K6's, folks)
  • and not correctly installing a proper heat-sink fan.

Operating a socketed AMD Athlon or AMD Duron processor for even a few seconds without the heatsink properly and firmly attached WILL RESULT IN PERMANENT DAMAGE!  If you have never installed a heatsink on an AMD Athlon or AMD Duron processor before, it may be difficult. You should do a dry run several times before doing the final installation.  Before installing one the first time, may I suggest that you download and read AMD's Socketed Processor Installation Guide.Please see our Contact page if you have any comments or corrections that would make this article better. Please use our Forums if you need help with a computer or network problem.

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.